Examining Freight Rail Safety

2167 Rayburn House Office Building and online via videoconferencing

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0 Tuesday, June 14, 2022 @ 10:00 | Contact: Justin Harclerode 202-225-9446
This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

Official Transcript


  • The Honorable Amit Bose, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration | Written Testimony
  • The Honorable Thomas B. Chapman, Member, National Transportation Safety Board | Written Testimony

  • Mr. Roy L. Morrison, Director of Safety, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division, International Brotherhood of Teamsters | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Don Grissom, Assistant General President, Brotherhood of Railway Carmen Division, TCU/IAM | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Grady C. Cothen, Jr., Retired Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Associate Administrator for Safety Standards and Program Development | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Nathan Bachman, Vice President of Sales & Business Development, Loram Technologies, Inc. | Written Testimony
  • Ms. Cindy Sanborn, Chief Operation Officer, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Safety & Operations Management Committee, Association of American Railroads | Written Testimony
  • Mr. Jeremy Ferguson, President, Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation-Transportation Division | Written Testimony
  • Opening remarks, as prepared, of Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Crawford (R-AR):

    Thank you, Chair Payne, for holding this hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for participating.  This hearing continues this Subcommittee’s focus on important aspects of railroad industry safety.  Today we are specifically focusing on safety issues in the freight railroad industry.  

    America’s freight railroads rank as one of the safest means of transporting goods in the world.  According to the Association of American Railroads, train accidents were down 33 percent between 2000 and 2020, and accidents involving hazardous materials were down 60 percent.

    These gains in safety build towards the ultimate target of zero accidents.  Monitoring and protecting our 140,000-mile freight rail network is no easy job.  Improving highway-rail grade crossing protections, reducing human error, and supporting innovative new drone and automated safety technologies can all contribute towards reaching the zero-accident goal.

    Specifically, we must continue to encourage the development of automated track inspection safety technology, which has been shown to decrease accidents, identify new safety issues, and free up safety inspectors to focus on other important duties.

    I recently sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration raising concerns about its denials of waivers to continue testing Automated Track Inspection technology.  I ask for unanimous consent to enter this letter into the record. [link to letter]

    Finally, there are multiple federal grant programs that can help communities and railroads upgrade and improve their tracks, highway-rail grade crossings, and general network infrastructure in ways that can have dramatic impacts on safety.  We must ensure that this grant funding is open and accessible to all qualified applicants in need, and that the money is distributed in a fair and transparent manner, including to both rural and urban areas.

    I commend the Chair for holding this hearing today and look forward to hearing from our witnesses.

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